In our new series, Dubliners, we tell stories from people from all walks of life who call this city their home. This week, we chat to Francesca, an Italian native who fell in love with Ireland after a trip to Letterkenny.
“When I was 16, I went on a trip to Letterkenny to learn English and be immersed in the Irish culture.
“It was an experience I will never forget.
“I was coming from Rome, where I lived in the city centre, and I landed in Letterkenny where I discovered an entirely new way of living.
“The families I met had more children than your average Italian family, and what surprised me the most was the independence of the children and teenagers I met.
“They had jobs, they looked after older family members and younger siblings, and unlike myself and my friends back in Italy they were trusted to be responsible for themselves and for others from a very young age.
“During that trip I made some great friends and I saw incredible dramatic landscapes, and I decided that I would try to go back to Ireland as much as possible to relive the experience.
“At the age of 22, after several trips around Ireland, I decided to study in Ireland and try to see what real life would be like here.
“I moved to Dublin to finish my studies in linguistics in Trinity College, and my parents tell me that when they saw me at the airport that day they knew that this would be a one way ticket.
“Of course I visit Italy sometimes, but now that I have a family here my trips are becoming less and less frequent, and I am almost in a limbo.
“People often ask me where I come from, and my immediate answer is Italy, but to be honest after 15 years I don’t have a life in Italy any more, and many of my old friends have moved to different countries too, so Ireland is my home now and more importantly it is the home of my children.
“I now work as a lecturer in Linguistics in Trinity College, and in 2017 I founded an organisation called Mother Tongues to support families like mine that are dealing with bilingualism in the home.
“My work with Mother Tongues has allowed me to meet families who have moved here from many different countries, and talking to them has given me a great insight into how people feel about starting a family in a new country, and their struggles when trying to pass on their language to their children.
“This has a great impact on the children’s self confidence as it strengthens their sense of identity.
“Since my first trip to Donegal 20 years ago, Ireland has become a much more multicultural place, and I hope that my children will understand how important it is to learn about and learn from people who are different from us.
“Every culture is fascinating and brings us an understanding of what it is like to be human.”
- What’s your story? Do you have an interesting connection to Dublin and why you call it home? Please email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org